Alabama dropout rate one of nation’s highest

There are several risk factors that contribute to a student dropping out of school, including community, individual circumstance and family.

According to the 2007 National Dropout Prevention Center at Clemson University, in high school, low socioeconomic status, early parenthood and low education level of parents play a role in whether a child will dropout.

At least 40 percent of Alabama’s students currently fail to graduate high school, according to the Southern Education Foundation’s report on high school dropouts, “Alabama’s Number One Education and Economic Problem.”

These students, therefore, are unable to attend colleges and universities, because a high school diploma is a requirement for admission.

“UA recruits qualified students from high schools across Alabama and out-of-state,” spokeswoman Cathy Andreen said.  “A high school diploma or its equivalent is required to attend any two-year or four-year college. High school students must meet UA’s admissions requirements to be admitted.”

Alabama’s high school graduation rate has shown greater improvement in recent years than the rates for most states, but it remains among the lowest nationwide, ranked at 44, according to a report from Johns Hopkins University which analyzed graduation rates from 2002 to 2006.

“The young person without an adequate education is less likely to vote or participate in civil life,” Southern Education Foundation states.

There are many organizations on the University’s campus and in the state that work to mentor students and help them to stay or to get back in school.

For example, a mentoring program at Central High School called Blueprint that gives students a look at college life operates with aid from the University’s Student Government Association and Honors College Assembly.

There are also other mentoring programs on campus that focus on children in elementary and middle school with the Honors College mentoring program. Students travel to Holt Elementary and Matthews Elementary schools to tutor the students in reading and math.

“For the year 2009-10, Central’s graduation rate climbed to 66 percent, a 14 percent increase over the previous year, Bryant’s went up by seven percent to 82 percent and Northridge’s graduation rate went up by 1 percent, to 80 percent,” according to reports from The Tuscaloosa News.

Hispanic and black students make up a lower percentage of the population on campus, and they also are among the races that have higher dropout rates.

Although this is evident on campus, there has been substantial improvement in the diversity and graduation of black students on this campus.

“UA has been successful in recruiting and graduating African-American students,” Andreen said. “The University is the number two public flagship university in the nation in the enrollment of African-American students, with African-Americans representing more than 12 percent of the student body this fall.”

She said UA ranks number three among 50 flagship institutions for the percentage of total degrees conferred to black students.

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